Brian Ortega believes there’s a good reason he’s been matched up with fellow featherweight standout Yair Rodriguez atop UFC Long Island this weekend.
Ortega (15-2, 1NC), who has not fought since losing a title bid against Alexander Volkanovksi last fall, feels it’s all about climbing back up the ladder. Speaking at this week’s UFC Long Island media day, “T-City” noted that “If you really pay attention to what’s been going on in the division, it does make sense for us to fight.”
“I lost to Volkanovski, and he [Rodriguez] just lost to [Max] Holloway. And he’s ranked #3 and I’m ranked #2. We’re both coming off a loss, and we’re about to basically fight each other to climb the ladder again basically.”
Climbing the ladder would mean getting another crack at Volkanovski, who just recently defeated Max Holloway for a third time. Ortega believes, however, that he’s given the champ his toughest test to date.
“I look at it as, I’m so far the man who’s put the champ in the most trouble. I’m not saying I beat him or nothing, but where he’s had the most difficulty or someone who’s dangerous to face him, is me,” Ortega opined. “And the world saw that, and he knows that, and we’ll see what happens. I have one man to focus on this weekend. So last thing I want to do is start speaking about the future and start counting all my eggs before they hatch.”
When it comes to the champ, losing his first encounter certainly helped him identify holes in his game. But he didn’t need to use the loss for motivation, per se, as that’s something that comes easy to the 31-year old.
“Us fighting again didn’t cross my mind. I was like ‘well, f*ck, I got knocked down the ladder, I gotta see what I have to do to climb back up.’ Motivation for me is something that comes pretty fast actually,” Ortega explained. “I know where I came from, I pull motivation from different resources in my life. Motivation is never a factor when it comes to my life. If anything, it’s staying disciplined, staying consistent, going when you don’t feel like going.”
Ortega says he learned from his first defeat that “I thrive when I put myself in arts and worlds that I’m not good at. Like when I go to the gym, and it’s me and you and you start beating my ass, I’m like ‘f*ck yeah, this is what I need. I need this, I need to lose here.’ Because that means I suck here, and I use you as a way of understanding my skillset there.”
Watch the full UFC Long Island media day scrum with Brian Ortega above. The event takes place Saturday, July 16, 2022 with the main card kicking off at 2PM ET on ABC.